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People battling the wind and surf at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn in the afternoon of October 29, 2012 hours before Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Courtesy of Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Mr. Gary Schwartz is a native New Yorker from Coney Island, and resides in Brighton Beach. Mr. Schwartz is an art teacher at York Prep for three years and has been an art teacher for 25 years. Mr. Schwartz attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City and has a BFA in advertising/graphic design. He previously taught at Lemont Manhattan Prep for ten years and was one of the founding faculty members of the school. During Hurricane Sandy, he refused to evacuate his home and instead stayed in Brighton Beach during the storm. His apartment building had an emergency generator, and he had power for the duration of the storm. He witnessed the water flood the streets, with waves hitting car windows and destroying store fronts. While he was largely unaffected, Mr. Schwartz’s mother lost utility services for a month, which included power, running water, and other necessities.
In the immediate wake of Hurricane Sandy, Aaron Leaf, an independent writer, editor, and digital producer, whose publications include ones in Al Jazeera America, The Nation, The Globe & Mail, and The Guardian, visited Brighton Beach, Brooklyn and interviewed business owners and residents as they began to recover from the storm. His article, "Hit Hard: Russian Immigrants in Brighton Beach Begin Post-Hurricane Cleanup," was published on the website, Feet in 2 Worlds: Telling the Stories of Today's Immigrants, a Project of the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School. The following interview excerpts with Felix Gleizer and Elizabeth Orlov were included in Mr. Leaf's article. Please read the entirety of his article by clicking on the above link. Audio clips courtesy of Aaron Leaf and the Center for New York City Affairs at The New School.